A circular economy for a cleaner and competitive Europe


Climate change and the increase in consumption forced the creation of an action plan by the European Union, which aims to improve the quality of the natural environment and the economy of the Member States. The system that is to help implement the European Union plan is to change from a linear economy to a circular economy. The assumptions of the Union were presented in the Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions (COM 98 final). In the article, the benefits of a circular economy for the countries of the community!

The European Union action plan and the circular economy

Due to the growing problem regarding the environment and its protection and consumption, the European Union decided to focus on the circular economy. According to the communiqué and analyzes carried out by the European Union, by 2050 global consumption will reach dimensions unimaginable to our planet, as if the population occupied three planets and not one. Such a high number also entails an increase in waste produced by the society, and by 2050 their annual production is to increase by 70%.

In order to stabilize the situation in this direction and prevent environmental degradation, the circular economy is to expand from leaders to economic entities. This is expected to contribute to achieving climate neutrality by 2050 as well as decoupling economic growth from resource use.

The project aims to donate more to our planet than take away by doubling the circular material use rate. These assumptions are also to contribute to the creation of new enterprises and the creation of new and more productive jobs, which is to strengthen the industrial base of the European Union. The EU is set to become a place less dependent on virgin materials, with more innovation and less environmental impact from technology (paragraph 1 of the EU Communication).

Sustainable products

Most of the products available on the market today are disposable or cannot be reused or repaired. Therefore, the European Union is to take the initiative of increasing the utility of products within the framework of legislation, in order to adapt them to a climate-neutral resource-efficient economy and to reduce the amount of waste. The Commission intends to establish the principles of sustainable development that will address the following aspects:

  1. harnessing the potential of digitization, including solutions such as digital passports, signage and watermarks;

  2. 'Product as a service', where the manufacturers own or are responsible for the performance of the products throughout their life cycle;

  3. a ban on destroying unsold durable goods;

  4. improving the durability of the product, the possibility of its reuse, extension of repairs;

  5. enabling product regeneration and high-quality recycling;

  6. reducing the carbon and environmental footprint.

This is to apply to, inter alia, products:

  1. electronic and ICT;

  2. batteries, accumulators, vehicles;

  3. packaging;

  4. from synthetic materials;

  5. textile products.

Waste Policy

Waste is a real challenge for our environment, and the actions taken so far still do not show a positive response. Their number is constantly growing, so with the statistics and numbers present with the growing consumption, one can imagine the extent of the problem that awaits our planet. Instead of the natural environment, we will be surrounded by a "contaminated" environment. In this regard, the European Union is to take measures to halve the amount of non-recyclable residual waste by 2030. Currently, the EU produces 2.5 billion tonnes of waste per year - 5 tonnes per inhabitant per year (paragraph 4 of the EU Communication).

A well-functioning market for secondary raw materials is to be created to instill confidence in reusable products, helping to reduce the generation of waste by EU residents. In addition, rules will be laid down to ensure that the EU does not export waste problems to third countries and to limit the export of waste harmful to the environment and health in third countries or which can be processed within the Union.

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European industrial strategy

The impact of the pandemic made the EU and individual Member States aware of how dependent we are on other countries in terms of importing products. On this basis, the Union wants to develop open autonomy and less dependence on third countries. As part of this, the Commission proposes a solution to be based on:

  1. diversified international partnership - ensuring that investment and trade play a key role in building economic resilience;

  2. industry alliances - Commission is preparing to launch an alliance for processors and semiconductor technologies and an alliance for industrial data etc .;

  3. monitoring strategic dependency - a list of products for which the EU is highly dependent on foreign sources.

The dependence of the EU on products from foreign countries is presented in the chart below, which can also be found on the website of the European Commission. The Union's addiction concerns 137 products.

Legal basis

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 11 March 2020 (COM 98 final).